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indiaforestcover

UPDATE: The Indian government has approved the National Mission for a Green India (NMGI), which will expand forests by five million hectares (over 12 million acres), while improving forests quality on another five million hectares for $10.14 billion (460 billion rupees).

The Ministry for Environment and Forests has indicated that they will soon launch a ‘Green India Mission’ to improve the quality and quantity of forest cover in the country. The effort to restore degraded forest lands is one of eight missions of the National Action Plan on Climate Change that the country has plans to undertake in response to international talks.

Out of 69 million hectares of forest in the country, 40% are degraded. The ambitious goals of the mission are to increase the forest cover in another five million hectares at the same preserve and protect an equal million heactares.

In the draft Green India Mission booklet (PDF) there is a call for a holistic forest management approach that looks beyond plantations for carbon sequestration. The idea is to preserve and enhance biodiversity in all range of forest habitats, including grassland/scrub, magrove forests and wetlands. The green mission acknowledges the influences that the forestry sector has on environmental amelioration through climate mitigation, food security, water security, biodiversity conservation and job security for forest dependant communities.

The role of forest monitoring with geospatial tools becomes crucial with this scheme, with four levels of monitoring proposed.

  1. On ground self-monitoring of the region by the local community, with community capacity to monitor carbon and other services
  2. Field review by an external agency of both random and selected sites
  3. Close collaboration with Forest Survey of India and Indian Institute of Remote Sensing to develop a country wide mosaic of high resolution satellite imagery and the development of a centralized spatial GIS database
  4. Pilot areas will be intensely monitored to gauge the impact and efficacy of old versus new land management practices

The forest monitoring plan meshes with India’s goal to have a dedicated forest monitoring satellite by 2013.

The ten-year mission has an estimated cost of Rs 44,000 crores. Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh had indicated that the government was hunting for funds for the Mission.

References

Green India Mission launched to improve quality and quantity of forest, Daily News Analysis, Feb. 6, 2011